CVS and Walgreens announced they’ll be selling products containing CBD. So what the heck is CBD? What’s up with CBD from hemp and marijuana, what it does, and what to know before you buy it at your local drugstore. CVS is going to sell CBD products over-the-counter in 800 stores in 8 states, CVS Health CEO Larry Melo said. Gone are the days where you have to get “high” in order to reap the many benefits of cannabis. With its rapid rise in popularity, CBD is now readily available and accessible to everyone without the need for a particular condition or a prescription. In fact, some CBD products may now even be found sold at your local CVS
What to Know About the CBD at Your CVS
What it is, what it does, and what to know before you buy.
CVS and Walgreens announced they’re going to sell products containing CBD, best known as the component of marijuana that won’t make you high, in certain stores. CVS is currently selling CBD topicals—creams, sprays, and lotions—in eight states. Walgreens announced its intention to sell CBD products days later, but “isn’t sharing additional details at this time,” according to a spokesperson.
If CBD hadn’t already reached fever pitch, with products like CBD-containing gummies, beer, coffee, eye creams, and even (no kidding) suppositories flooding the market, this announcement legitimizes the compound further.
But market share and the veneer of legitimacy doesn’t mean there’s a lot of clarity around the stuff. Here’s what to know about CBD before you buy:
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The CBD in CVS is derived from hemp, not from marijuana
To the government, that makes a difference—the rules governing the growing and selling of marijuana are much stricter than those governing hemp (although hemp’s are still pretty murky). To your body, where it was derived doesn’t make a difference at all. “CBD is a molecule and is the same regardless of whether it is derived from cannabis or hemp or synthesized in a lab,” says David J. Grelotti, M.D., medical director of the University of California Center for Medical Cannabis Research, based at UC San Diego.
Products touting “hemp” on the label may contain CBD. But might not
Plenty of stores sell products containing hemp, but there’s no guarantee it contains CBD. “You see a lot of business not using CBD on their labels in favor of the word ‘hemp,’” says Ricardo Baca, the former “cannabis editor” for The Denver Post, now in the thick of regulatory challenges and changes as founder of the PR firm Grasslands. “I think it’s in an effort to hope it attracts less regulatory oversight. There’s a feeling that the FDA is very much looking at these product labels.” Baca also points out “a lot of the hemp grown and used for products sold on the unregulated market are coming from hemp cultivated in countries that have even less strict regulations.” So it may contain pesticides or other impurities. To protect yourself from this, “choose products sourced from domestically-grown hemp,” he says.
Right now, we know CBD is good for…sales?
The CBD market is predicted to grow to $22 billion by 2022—because or in spite of definitive evidence that CBD has a positive effect on your health. There’s a lot of “sciency noise” around CBD, says Timothy Caulfield, research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta and author of The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness. The World Health Organization says that when it comes to CBD, “for most indications there is only pre-clinical evidence.”
Marty Munson, currently the health director of Men’s Health, has been a health editor at properties including Marie Claire, Prevention, Shape and RealAge. She’s also certified as a swim and triathlon coach.
CVS to sell CBD products in 800 stores in 8 states
CBD-infused sprays, roll-ons, creams and salves will be offered as an ‘alternative source of relief’.
CVS to sell CBD-infused products
CVS Pharmacy announced Wednesday that it will begin selling hemp-derived CBD products in eight states. The national drug store chain will be marketing the topical cannabidiol products, such as creams, sprays and roll-ons, as “an alternative source of relief,” CVS said in a statement to NBC News. CVS will also be partnering with a company to test and verify the quality of the CBD topicals sold in its drug stores.
“We are carrying hemp-derived CBD products in select states to help meet consumer demand for alternative care options,” said CVS Health Spokesperson, Mike DeAngelis.
The items will be sold in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee.
Health Even without proof, CBD is finding a niche as a cure-all
CBD, or cannabidiol, comes from the hemp plant, a close relative to another member of the cannabis family, marijuana. Both plants contain abundant types of cannabinoids, but marijuana is high in the psychoactive chemical THC, while hemp is rich in CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis that has generated quite a buzz for its potential medicinal benefits.
CBD has been touted as a treatment for a wide range of conditions — including anxiety, pain, inflammation and even cancer — but little reliable research has been done on CBD’s effects on humans, experts say. The only FDA-approved CBD oil is Epidiolex, an oral solution prescribed for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare, severe forms of epilepsy.
“Societies have jumped far far ahead of science,” said Dr. Margaret Haney, a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University Medical Center and director of Columbia’s Marijuana Research Laboratory. “So it’s showing up in lotions and pretty much any form of product one can use. There’s a lot of different ways one could use CBD, but the ways we have studied CBD is much more limited.”
CVS has at least 9,800 stores nationwide and will soon roll out the CBD products in over 800 stores in the eight states. The health care chain says that effectiveness claims will vary from product-to-product, but that the company does not plan to market any of the items as a ‘cure-all’ product.
“We’re going to walk slowly, but this is something we think our customers will be looking for,” CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo said in an interview Wednesday with CNBC’s Jim Cramer.
Health Daily use of high potency marijuana linked to higher rates of psychosis, study finds
The company noted that they would not be selling any CBD-based supplements or food additives. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal to introduce drug ingredients like CBD into the food supply or to market them as dietary supplements.
“Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law, but also can put patients at risk, as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement in December.
For this reason, CVS will market the creams and salves as over-the-counter medicinal products, merchandised in a dedicated display.
There have been more dangerous situations where people turn down effective medications to use unproven products, like CBD.
To assure accurate labeling and safety for customers, CVS has partnered with Eurofins, a third party laboratory, to test all CBD topicals for THC, CBD content, and other contaminants, DeAngelis said in the statement to NBC News.
“We are working only with CBD product manufacturers that are complying with applicable laws and that meet CVS’s high standards for quality. Only products passing these independent tests are offered for sale in our stores,” the statement said.
Some experts believe the move by CVS to sell CBD over-the-counter may provide more questions than answers, at least initially.
“It’s a way to reduce the stigma for a product that really doesn’t deserve to be stigmatized,” said nutritionist and cannabis practitioner Brooke Alpert. “On the other hand, because of the lack of regulation it raises questions like: do people really know what they’re getting; can other brands get away with selling inferior products; and where can people find more information about these products?”
Health FDA approves cannabis-based drug CBD for epilepsy
Another big concern for experts is that patients will avoid proven medications in favor of CBD.
“There have been more dangerous situations where people turn down effective medications to use unproven products, like CBD,” said Haney.
Dr. Shamard Charles is a physician-journalist for NBC News and Today, reporting on health policy, public health initiatives, diversity in medicine, and new developments in health care research and medical treatments.
Which CBD Products Are Sold at CVS?
Gone are the days where you have to get “high” in order to reap the many benefits of cannabis. With its rapid rise in popularity, CBD is now readily available and accessible to everyone without the need for a particular condition or a prescription. In fact, some CBD products may now even be found sold at your local CVS store.
CBD is still going through the initial stages of testing and trials and has not yet been approved as a supplement or drug. This means that the legalities surrounding CBD remain a bit murky. However, CBD oil that is applied topically is categorized differently, and is thus seen as a less legally risky option for major retailers.
Varieties of CBD oil that are used topically have been legal in the United States since the Agricultural Improvement act of 2018 and have finally made an appearance on the shelves of CVS stores in select states including the following:
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
From lotions to patches, we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the benefits and uses of the various CBD products now sold at CVS stores in the above states.
About the CBD Products Sold at CVS
CBD products are becoming increasingly available to everyone and come in many different forms and varieties. However, until the FDA releases official regulations for CBD products that are ingested, mass retail stores such as CVS are steering clear of any murky and questionable legalities. This includes CBD that comes in the form of pills, softgels, tinctures, and edibles.
What can be found at CVS is a nice variety of topical CBD oil. Topicals are applied to and absorbed through the skin and are great to target specific parts of the body. CBD topicals that can currently be found at CVS stores include the following:
- Body oil
Lotions, Creams, Balms, and Salves
Topicals such as lotions, creams, balms, and salves allow you to target specific muscles and areas on the body. They are absorbed by the skin and can generally be used as often as needed. Some varieties combine CBD with other specialized ingredients to create a product targeted to support specific areas like joints and muscles.
The Social CBD Night Time Lotion is a great option to use before bed as it combines the power of CBD with magnesium, arnica, and soothing essential oils such as lavender and Roman chamomile. It also uses a combination of shea butter, coconut oil, and argan oil to deeply moisturize your skin while you sleep.
The Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery Extra Strength CBD Cream also targets dry skin. This cream combines moisturizing marula seed and argan kernel oils with extra strength CBD oil and is recommended to be used daily.
Balms and salves differ from lotions and creams in that they usually contain little to no water, but instead have a high oil content. They are slower to absorb and are preferable for dry areas such as hands, knees, and elbows. The oily nature of balms and salves makes them a great choice for those who want lasting support with a slow and steady absorption of CBD.
Two of the balms that CVS carries are the Social CBD Muscle Balm in Lavender and Cool Mint. These muscle balms can be used up to four times per day to target specific muscle groups. Use either variety to soothe and calm muscles through the combined benefits of CBD, arnica, peppermint, eucalyptus, and menthol.
One salve carried by CVS is Veritas Farms Lavender/Eucalyptus Salve. This salve stands out because it is a full-spectrum CBD, meaning that all parts of the cannabis plant were used to create the CBD oil used. A full spectrum CBD can offer the benefits of the entourage effect, the term given to the enhanced benefits created by using a combination of all of the various phytocannabinoids found in cannabis.
Roll-ons are an easy and portable way to apply CBD oil directly to the skin. The Strength Of Hope Thrive Roll-On combines a full spectrum CBD with healing tea tree and calming lavender oils to create a product that can soothe all day.
Body oil is a great way to hydrate skin. It combines a full spectrum CBD with some of the best natural oils and extracts to create a moisture lock that can’t be beat. Due to its more greasy nature, though, it is not as easy to use throughout the day as creams and lotions. It is instead recommended to use body oil at night or while skin is still moist after a shower so that it has ample time to soak in.
The Sagely Naturals Drift & Dream CBD Body Oil promises to be lightweight and non-greasy. It also combines a full spectrum CBD oil with other natural oils such as jojoba, chamomile, evening primrose, and clary sage to create a product that offers maximum hydration while also soothing and relaxing.
Patches are a way to benefit from a steady release of CBD throughout an entire day. For those who don’t want to worry about reapplying lotion or creams throughout the day or who have multiple reasons for using CBD, a patch may be a hassle-free choice.
This Social CBD Infused Patch sold at CVS is fully effective in only an hour after application and will last an entire 24 hours.
Although the studies and resulting legalities surrounding CBD are still evolving, the availability of CBD has been steadily growing. CBD products sold in retail stores such as CVS are still only available in select states and remain limited to topicals for the time being, though there is no shortage of the variety within this limitation.
From full spectrum roll-ons to nighttime lotions, CVS carries CBD products to suit every need. The above guide highlights only a few examples of the many options now readily available, a selection that is only expected to grow as CBD continues to prove itself in the world of natural remedies.
Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.